How Much Protein Do You Really Need_ Experts Weigh In

How Much Protein Do You Really Need? Experts Weigh In

Whether you’re dieting to lose weight or trying to build muscle, nutrition is a key factor in either. Protein in particular is one of our primary macronutrients. Your body needs it to perform an array of functions that keep it healthy.

Whatever your motivation, knowing how much protein you need is vital to keeping your body healthy. We’re looking at advice straight from the experts to help you figure out your protein intake. 

What Is Protein?

As we mentioned in our introduction, protein is a macronutrient. Macronutrients supply the body with calories or energy. It’s one of three primary macronutrients alongside fats and carbohydrates.

The human body needs macronutrients to keep working. Protein makes up around 15% of the average person’s body weight. This is because it’s made up of amino acids which are the body’s ‘building blocks’.

Our muscles, skin, bones, organs, and more are made up of protein. That’s why protein is so important when it comes to staying healthy, as well as building muscle mass. 

The body uses 20 different amino acids to function optimally. It produces 11 amino acids by itself, and the other nine essential amino acids are sourced through food. A protein that contains all nine of these essential amino acids is known as a complete protein.

This is important to remember because amino acids don’t work in solidarity. If you’re missing one amino acid from your diet, the others won’t be able to work as well.

This is why it’s important not just to have protein in your diet, but to ensure you’re getting it from the right sources of protein.

How Much Protein Do I Need? 

Now you know how vital protein is to stay healthy, you need to know how much protein to include in your diet. 

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilo of body weight. But it’s not as simple as following the RDA guidelines. These guidelines are the minimum amount of protein intake.

By this we mean, following the RDA guidelines is the minimum amount of protein you could eat a day without getting sick. Obviously, as this protein intake guidance is calculated by body weight, this intake will vary slightly from person to person. 

Another factor to further complicate how much our daily recommended protein intake should be is activity levels. For those leading a sedentary lifestyle, the RDA protein guidance should be sufficient. But for those leading an active lifestyle and regularly working out in some way, they would need to increase how much protein they eat.

In terms of your diet, the RDA guidelines translate to around 10% of your daily calorie intake for a relatively active person. You can figure out your exact RDA for protein by multiplying your weight in pounds by 0.36.

However, if you’re doing heavy exercise daily, your protein intake should increase considerably. Up to around 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This could translate to up to 25% of your total daily calorie intake. 

The focus on nutrition has moved recently from the recommended daily intake to the source of those nutrients. By this we mean, much of the focus is on eating healthy proteins, like the complete proteins we mentioned previously.

Complete Proteins

Getting more protein isn’t as simplistic as eating more meat. While meat can definitely provide high-quality protein for your diet, a lot of it also contains a lot of saturated fats. Particularly processed red meats like bacon, sausages, and ham.

The best sources of complete proteins are lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, and fish. Dairy is also a great source so foods like milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources too. Although the latter tend to be higher in fat, so it’s ideal to get the reduced-fat options.

For vegetarians and vegans, getting complete proteins is a little harder, but not impossible. Complete plant-based protein sources include quinoa, soybeans, buckwheat, hempseed, and blue-green algae. They don’t contain as much protein as animal sources, but alongside other healthy proteins can make up a good protein intake. 

One of the best sources of protein is eggs. Egg whites in particular are a very pure source of protein, with minimal carbohydrates and no fat. Skinless chicken or turkey breast is another great source, with low fat. Closely followed by fish like tuna or salmon, which have the added benefit of being packed full of omega-3.

Overall, balance is key. You need to mix up your protein sources to get the best varied and balanced diet that gives you all the nutrients you need.

Particularly if you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass, getting the right amount of protein from the right sources is so important for your well-being. A personal trainer or nutritionist would be the best person to advise you on your individual intake. 

Can You Eat Too Much Protein?

Short answer, yes. The body has no way of storing protein. So stuffing your diet full of protein in the hopes you’ll make some muscle gains isn’t going to work. 

What actually happens if you eat too much protein is the body will convert it into fat or glucose. If it’s the latter your body is doing a process known as deamination. It’s toxic to our cells because it produces ammonia.

This is then converted into a substance called urea. Not to get too graphic, but it’s then excreted out through our urine with a rather unpleasant smell.

All this is to say, if you’re loading up on proteins expecting results, don’t. 

Can Protein Help With Weight Loss?

There are a lot of differing opinions on this, as well as diets like Atkins which actively encourage high protein intake. Eating protein alone won’t make you lose weight, but it will make you feel fuller for longer. This, in turn, may lead you to consume fewer calories overall so in a sense yes protein can help you lose weight. 

Long term though, a protein high diet won’t give your body everything it needs. The body needs carbohydrates and even fats to function at its best. A balanced diet is key. 

Not Just Nutrition

How much protein you eat is important, as well as the rest of your diet. But if you’re trying to get in shape, your diet alone isn’t always enough. Regular exercise helps your body function at its best. 

At Fuel Fitness, we’re offering free trials to all our new customers. Just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you figure out your fitness goals.

Start your FREE trial today!

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Holly Bosman

About Holly Bosman

Proud mom of 3 kids. Certified as a personal trainer and in Silver Sneakers. I enjoy gardening, running and reading. 

I love that my job gives me the opportunity to change people’s lives and help them achieve their goals!

Alex Wagner

About Alex Wagner

My name is Alex. I first was introduced to fitness after losing 110 lbs in high school. From there I enlisted into the marine cops where I operated heavy equipment but also coached overweight marines to get back into standard. Now I do competitive powerlifting but also coach all walks of life to find their own healthy lifestyles.

Director of Personal Training
Certifications: ISSA Personal Trainer
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Specialities: Weight loss, Strength training, Lifestyle nutrition

Nahjerrelle Graves

about Nahjerelle Graves

Fitness is Practice for life. From my 6 years of experience & combined with being an athlete for over 10 years, fitness is the closest you will get to immediate self-reflection. When the going gets tuff, who will you be for you?!

Certifications: ISSA, Expert rating, IFTA, AMP
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Specialities: Athletic Training/Muscle Gain -Total Body Training/Weight Loss

Gavin Anglin

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Gavin is a very professional and hard-working personal trainer and nutrition consultant. His passions are faith, family friends, fitness and food. He works hard to help others achieve the highest levels of health and well-being possible.

Gavin graduated from Appalachian State University in the spring of 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food. He also just recently completed the Dietetic Internship and graduate certificate program in nutrition with North Carolina Central University in Durham in the spring of 2023 to become a Registered Dietitian.

Certifications: ACEPersonal Trainer, AHA Basic Life Support training, BA in Food & Nutrition (Dietetics), NDTRs.
Experience: 6 years as Personal Trainer, 3 years NDTRs
Specialities: Lifestyle nutrition

Wanda Williams

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Hi! My name is Wanda Williams. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Fuel Fitness family.

My class is OnBeat. We do more than just dance! My class gives you an opportunity to express yourself and be a part of an awesome community without judgment. Can’t wait to meet you all!

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My name is Melissa. I am the Group Fitness coordinator. I have been teaching Group fitness for 8+ years. I started out as a Concept 2 Row instructor. I then began teaching indoor Cycle and now can teach a multitude of formats. I enjoy not only being a group fitness instructor, but I also enjoy the people in the classes. I love how they/we become friends and encourage one another, challenge each other, and help hold each other accountable.

Becoming an instructor has helped me to love and enjoy working out. I have now started road biking and hiking which is something I never thought I would ever enjoy doing. Getting into regular physical activity and healthy habits can lead to so many more activities, which makes life so much more enjoyable.

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My name is Abby and I’m a Licensed Recreational Therapist and a Certified Silver Sneakers Instructor.

I’ve worked for thirty years in Nursing Homes/Rehab Facilities and as a Silver Sneaker Instructor for eight years. Being with older adults is my jive and has always been even as a young girl.

My husband and I enjoy traveling, camping, and hiking. I’m glad to be a part of the Fuel Team!

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My name is Ryan and I love spending time with my dogs and wife.

I have been training clients for 18 years and am certified through NASM. I have recently completed a 14-month schooling/mentorship with a DR of physical therapy to become an active life professional.

An ALP is someone who offers education, and customized exercise programs based on comprehensive assessment and mentorship.

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I started my personal fitness journey in 2017 when I lost 40 pounds in less than 2 months with diet and exercise. I made it my mission to help others the way I helped myself.

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Hal is a transplant from Austin, TX. His training focuses on building a solid Mind-To-Muscle connection, mastering form, and building strength for a healthy active life.
Certifications: NASM CPT, USA Swim, USA Gymnastics
Experience: NASM CPT – 1 year; Swim – 15 years
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About Kristi Robinson

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Sonya Byrd is a yoga instructor with a 200-hour certification. She has four years of experience teaching yoga flow, power yoga and deep stretch.

What she loves most about teaching is the connections made with members. She enjoys the opportunity to let members know that they are enough and are created with a purpose.

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Hey everyone! My name is Maci and I am very passionate about fitness and nutrition. I am a college student studying exercise science with hope to pursue a career in holistic medicine.

I am super excited to have the opportunity to instruct Row and Knockout here at Fuel.

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Hi, I’m Michelle and I have been teaching fitness classes for a little over 10 years. I love teaching in a group setting because it’s motivating to be surrounded by like-minded people and it fosters healthy competition.

Watching members go from a group of people who do not know each other when starting out, to growing into a family and people who care about one another is the best feeling.

I love watching people improve over time and helping them fall in love with moving their bodies and exercising. My goal is to make fitness FUN!

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Originally from London, England I came to America with an athletic scholarship for swimming as well as to complete two bachelor of science degrees in Exercise Science and Sport Management.

During my time in college, I completed a Personal Training certification and also became a corrective exercise specialist. Since graduating in 2020 I have also become a certified nutrition coach. All certifications through the National Association of Sports Medicine (NASM).

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